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After Story 74
"Should we merge houses?"
Maru put down the beef jerky that he was just about to eat. Haneul, who was fidgeting with a tangerine, asked again about what he thought of it.
"Looks like you're done sorting yourself."
"I am. Not just that, I even decided on a path, and I found that this was the only remaining problem I had."
"Isn't it good to live apart?"
"It is. We've been together for too long."
"Do I really need to explain?"
Haneul peeled off the white fibers on the flesh of the tangerine before handing it to him.
Here – she said as she flicked her hand.
Maru put his head forward and received and ate the tangerine with his mouth.
"Personal s.p.a.ce is good, but it really feels bitter to have no one at home. We've become too used to having each other. Don't you think so too, sweetie?"
"Like h.e.l.l I don't. It's a problem for me because I think too much about it."
"There are a lot of realistic problems too."
"You know what will happen once you start working as an actress. A young actress of twenty-two lives with a man. I can already see what the news t.i.tles will be like."
"Stop there. Just listening to that makes my head ache."
They wouldn't have had this problem if they chose to live as office workers. It wouldn't give them any disadvantages even if they lived together.
In fact, they would have pulled forward the date of their marriage so that they could benefit from the social infrastructure prepared for newlywed couples.
However, being actors was a different story. This was an occupation that fed off of rumors and was killed by them.
After becoming actors with top-of-the-industry ticketing powers, they would be able to suppress any rumors, but to actors who just started off, every single line uttered by the media was critical.
If it was about dating, then all the more so.
"How about an actor-actress couple who gets married early?" Haneul asked.
"I'm not sure. Looking at the era, that seems better than just dating. But people still prefer unmarried beautiful actresses to married ones. Especially for someone like you, who has the appearance to back it up."
"So I'm the bad one for being pretty?"
"What am I supposed to do if you take that joke so seriously?"
"Because it's true that I'm pretty. And what you said about the general perspective on actresses is true too. I guess it should be better for male actors?"
"Like h.e.l.l it is. It's about the same. In fact, it might be even worse."
"Well, I guess both of us have public image-based jobs. Do you remember, sweetie? On the day after we publicly admitted our relations.h.i.+p, someone left a teddy bear with the eyes pulled out in front of your house."
"I do remember that. Whoever it was, that person even wrote my name on the forehead."
"And put a photo of me next to it."
"When was that again?"
"I'm not sure about that. Maybe around the 8000th time?"
"I think it's past the ten thousandth time."
"Maybe. I've loved and married the same person for tens of thousands of times, but I cannot remember it all. But I remember the teddy bear accident because it was such a shocker. Thinking back now, it's quite something. It means that it was so impressive that we still remember it to this day, right?"
"The problem is that it's impressive in a bad way."
Haneul seemed to be thinking about the event as she was looking at the blank s.p.a.ce between the TV and the clock.
"We lived for such a long time, but we've never got divorced even once."
"Do you want to try?" He gave her some beef jerky.
Haneul bit on the jerky slightly.
"Should we do one in our later years? We'll get divorced when we get old to attract everyone's attention before combining again. We'll smile while looking at everyone telling us off for being senile."
"I sometimes don't understand what Han Haneul is thinking. You're my wife, but I still don't know a lot about you."
"You still don't know me?"
Haneul smiled and got close to him. Maru wrapped his hand around her shoulder and stroked it.
"It's already time," she said as she checked the time.
Three, two, one – she counted in a small voice and as soon as it was midnight, she stood up from the sofa.
"Merry Christmas. There will be a present-giving ceremony."
She went into the room and came back out with a palm-sized box in her hands.
"I don't like celebrating events, but this is our first Christmas together, so I can't just sit still. There, open it."
Maru smiled at Haneul, who urged him, and carefully opened the packaging.
He did have a hunch when he saw it in her hand, and the moment he saw for himself what it was, he ended up chuckling.
"What? You feel so happy that you're laughing?"
"That too, but there's another reason."
Maru opened the lid. Inside was a ring, a thick golden ring. As for the design, it only had a twist at the connection point. He took out the ring and put it on his ring finger.
"We both don't like anything fancy, so I went with that."
He put on the ring and looked around it. It didn't bother him at all.
"Does it fit?"
"Of course it does. It's you who gave it to me. But this makes things awkward."
He told the puzzled Haneul to open the drawer next to the sofa. She opened it and took out the present inside. She laughed as soon as she saw the size.
"Looks like we've lived together for too long after all."
"Tell me about it. Open it now. It'll be even funnier if you do."
Haneul took off the packaging while saying that she looked forward to it. When she opened the ring case, her expression changed continually from one moment to the next.
She looked at it in a daze first, then smiled, then laughed her tears out.
"Aren't we too similar?" she said as she showed him the case. Inside was a silver ring. Just like the one she gifted him, it was thin and didn't have any ornaments.
"Give me your hand," Haneul said as she put out her palm.
Maru placed her hand on hers. She took out the golden ring and put it on his ring finger. The gold and silver rings looked like a pair.
"Do it to me too," she said.
He also grabbed the silver ring. The ring slipped into the thin finger.
"It's pretty." She looked at the ring closely while flipping her hand over.
Seeing Haneul's satisfied expression was a much better gift than the present.
"I'm going to shoot a drama."
He wanted to tell her before anyone else. She, who was inspecting the ring, widened her eyes and asked back, "Really? You pa.s.sed the one you auditioned for last time?"
"Yeah. I got contacted during the day."
"When will it air?"
"I'm not entirely sure, but it should be in the first quarter. It's already scheduled to be aired, so I don't have to worry about it flopping."
"Congratulations. We shouldn't have celebrated at home. We should've gone outside."
"I don't like noisy places. Also, I like being with you at home, hun."
"It's sometimes really pleasing to hear you call me 'hun' like that."
Haneul's upper body leaned towards him. Maru sat upright so that she could lean on him.
"Which TV station is it?"
"That's a fateful place. Most of your first dramas were shot in RBS, right?"
"Now that I think about it, it was RBS 9 times out of 10. Maybe it really suits me."
"What role are you playing?"
"A newbie detective."
Haneul tapped on his thigh, signaling him to go to the side a little more. She lay on the sofa, with his thigh as her pillow.ReadNovelFull.com
"A detective is good. What personality does he have?"
"A cheerful new recruit."
"You're good at things like that. It unexpectedly suits you."
"But he dies early."
"Early? Do you know what episode?"
"If I had to guess from the script I got from the audition, around the 2nd episode."
"That's too early. It'd be great if you could appear a little more."
"That's not something I get to decide. I guess I'll just have to die dynamically so that everyone wonders who that guy is."
"Right, right. My hubby, you gotta die well."
"It sounds weird if you put it like that."
She let out a soft chuckle. "I want to do something too. I don't care what it is, but I just want to start acting."
"I'm sure your agency will support you. If I was the president of that agency, I would have put you in all sorts of places to make you known. You're such a good item, so it's such a pity to just let you be like this, isn't it?"
He mischievously stroked Haneul's hair upwards. At first, she gestured to him to stop, but eventually just bit his thigh with her teeth.
He screeched in pain and immediately took his hand off.
"Are you a dog?"
"I sometimes want to be."
"If you say that, she'll stare at you like you're someone crazy." Maru pointed at the cat observing them from the corner. The way she twitched her eyes and stretched her waist made her look like an animal facing prey. She still didn't seem to like the human woman who visited every now and then.
"I have to get close to her too."
"She's a territorial animal, so you have to see her frequently to get close. Right now, she still finds you unfamiliar."
"Hey! You mad that I'm hogging your daddy?"
When Haneul shouted, the cat yawned. She smiled and sat up.
"On my way here, I found a large Christmas tree nearby."
"Shall we go have a look?"
"I was waiting for you to say that. Since we're going out, let's stop by a wine bar too. This big sister will treat you to a drink to celebrate your drama debut. No, just drink to your heart's content. I'll carry you if you're drunk."
"It's so good to have a reliable wife."
They put on their coats and left the house. She, who followed him out, didn't close the door and looked inside for a long while.
Maru wondered what she was up to, and approached her, only to see that she was having a staring contest with the cat.
"I'm stealing your daddy. Bye!"
There, she said it.
Maru smiled and grabbed her hand.
"You're such a kid."
"It's good to live young."
He followed her as she pulled him by his hands. The commercial district near his house was filled with sparkling lights unlike usual.
He could also hear some carols from time to time. It was a Christmas mood that he would not be able to feel at his house.
"I never get tired of this atmosphere."
Maru followed Haneul into the lights. This was his first Christmas.
* * *
"Thou who art working on Christmas. Depart, off to Hawaii."
"Don't say some weird nonsense and have a good look."
"Of course I'm taking a good look. I'm on the lookout for great talent so don't worry."
"That's good then."
Nam Joon scooped up the profiles on the table and put them in a cardboard box, though, rather than 'putting' it, it was closer to 'throwing it away'.
If it was this easy to gather sc.r.a.p pieces of paper, maybe running a paper sc.r.a.p yard wasn't so bad.
"You finished sorting that out, right?"
"Yes. These are the ones you chose."
"Were there so many?"
"There were. There are about 1,300 profiles we received. You said we're going to pick all the positions except the lead roles, so it would be strange if the amount was small."
Nam Joon brought a box and put it in front of the a.s.sistant director. This was the last profiles box.
"This one's from Bell Acting School?"
"Yes. The secondary ones. This is just the women's pile. We sorted the men's ones before."
"But it doesn't look like a lot."
"Now that you mention it, that's true. It looks less than the number of male applicants."
"From what I know, there are a lot of girls in that school."
"Maybe those people didn't want to do this film."
He took out the profiles and put them down in front of the a.s.sistant director and sat down next to him.
Nam Joon's role was to primarily cla.s.sify the ones that fit the condition provided to him by the a.s.sistant director.
"I'll start from the ones on the bottom. Let's see, their names are… Miss Choi Seungah, and miss Jung Dawoon. That's a pretty name, Jung Dawoon. I got a feeling from her name. Can we just pick her?"
"Don't say nonsense and just sort the ones that fit the condition."
"Yes, I will. I just said what I said to freshen up the mood. I still can't believe two men are staring into profiles in a cramped room on Christmas of all days."
"Hey, do you want to work with the director instead of me?"
"No. Why are you doing this to me? I'll do my best."
Nam Joon handed the profiles of Choi Seungah and Jung Dawoon to the a.s.sistant director. Then he started going through the profiles of other girls.